Episode 116: India's Lost Decade

In 2008, India was growing at 8.8% and was described as a miracle economy. It all went downhill in the next 10 years. Puja Mehra, author of The Lost Decade, joins Amit Varma in episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe the random events, political imperatives and human dramas that collided to bring us to the brink of a crisis.

Also check out:
The Lost Decade -- Puja Mehra
DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- ep 85 of The Seen and the Unseen
Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards — Amit Varma
Demonetisation -- Ep 2 of The Seen and the Unseen
The Bad and Complex Tax -- Ep 74 of The Seen and the Unseen (on GST)
Is KitKat a Chocolate or a Biscuit? -- ep 28 of The Seen and the Unseen (on GST)
The State of Our Farmers -- ep 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (in Hindi)
Where Are the Jobs? -- ep 87 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 115: The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva

The ideology of Hindutva dominates our political and cultural landscape today. How did it begin, and what is it precisely? Aakar Patel, author of the forthcoming book Our Hindu Rashtra, joins Amit Varma in episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on three important Hindutva thinkers. 

Also check out:
Hindutva – VD Savarkar
Bunch of Thoughts – MS Golwalkar
Integral Humanism – Deendayal Upadhyay
Ayodhya: The Dark Night – Dhirendra Jha and Krishna Jha
The Coffeehouse of Surat – Leo Tolstoy
Why I Write  Saadat Hasan Manto (translated by Aakar Patel)
The Story of Our Ancestors – Episode 112 of The Seen and the Unseen
The BJP’s Magic Formula – Episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 113: The Geopolitics of the Bangladesh War

The formation of Bangladesh was neither inevitable nor a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan. Historian Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 113 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe the geopolitical forces that shaped those events of 1971.

Also check out:
1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh -- Srinath Raghavan
The Blood Telegram -- Gary Bass
Uncle Sam in South Asia -- episode 93 of The Seen and the Unseen, with Srinath Raghavan
Understanding the India-Pakistan Conflict - episode 111 of The Seen and the Unseen, with Srinath Raghavan
The formation of the Mujibnagar interim government
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's speech at the UN

Episode 111: The India-Pakistan Conflict

What are the hidden dynamics of the India-Pakistan conflict? What are the possible ways of resolving it? Historian and foreign policy analyst Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 111 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the game theory and geopolitics of this messy situation.

Also check out:
Srinath Raghavan's books on Amazon
Unlike Vajpayee & Manmohan, PM Modi thinks prudence in conflict is a self-imposed fetter -- Srinath Raghavan
Uncle Sam in South Asia -- ep 93 of The Seen and the Unseen
Strategy: A History -- Lawrence Freedman
Not War, Not Peace -- George Perkovich and Toby Dalton
Images of Terror -- Philip Jenkins
Posturing For Peace -- Vipin Narang
To Escalate or Not? This is Modi's Zugzwang Moment -- Amit Varma

Episode 110: Reporting Venezuela

Venezuela is a country blessed by nature but cursed by politics. Journalist Alexandra Ulmer joins Amit Varma in episode 110 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her insights from her years as a reporter there.

Also check out:
Alexandra Ulmer's homepage
Alexandra Ulmer for Reuters
Crude Nation: How Oil Riches Ruined Venezuela -- Raúl Gallegos
Hugo Chávez: The Definitive Biography -- Cristina Marcano & Alberto Barrera Tyszka
Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez's Venezuela -- Rory Carroll
Hell of a Fiesta -- Enrique Krauze (non-gated version here)
How to End Venezuela’s Nightmare -- Ricardo Hausmann

Episode 108: The Importance of Cities

India is rapidly urbanizing – and the Indian state seems to be in denial about it. Reuben Abraham and Pritika Hingorani join Amit Varma in episode 108 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss what India needs to do to prepare for its urban future.

Also check out:
India’s a Land of Cities, Not Villages -- Reuben Abraham and Pritika Hingorani
How cities, not states, can solve the world's biggest problems -- Robert Muggah and Reuben Abraham
Reclaim the Sky -- Episode 11 of The Seen and the Unseen, on FSI
Why Are Our Cities So Messed Up? -- Episode 31 of The Seen and the Unseen, on Urban Governance
The Gateway to Our Cities -- Episode 21 of The Seen and the Unseen, on Slums
The World is Getting Better -- Episode 101 of The Seen and the Unseen, on Human Progress
Order Without Design -- Alain Bertaud
Triumph of the City -- Edward Glaeser
Young Rural Women in India Chase Big-City Dreams -- Ellen Barry

Episode 107: An Economics Ramble

Host Amit Varma is joined by Vivek Kaul and Kumar Anand in episode 107 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the economic landscape of the day. Subjects discussed include the interim budget, the minimum income guarantee, the jobs crisis and how good politics leads to bad economics.

Also check out:
Here Is Why the Indian Voter Is Saddled With Bad Economics -- Amit Varma
Politics = Bribery -- Amit Varma and Kumar Anand
Show us the money: Will Rahul Gandhi’s MIG-19 fly? -- Vivek Kaul
Budget or Fudget?: Read This and Decide -- Vivek Kaul
India budget: Will India buy Narendra Modi's story of hope again? -- Vivek Kaul
The Indian State Is the Greatest Enemy of the Indian Farmer -- Amit Varma
The Business of Doing Business -- Reshu Natani and Kumar Anand
DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- ep 85 of The Seen and the Unseen
Rajesh Jain's Journey to Dhan Vapasi -- ep 94 of The Seen and the Unseen  
The State of Our Farmers -- ep 86 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 106: Stubborn Attachments

In his latest book, Stubborn Attachments, Tyler Cower lays out a moral vision for the future. He joins Amit Varma in episode 106 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why future lives matter as much as present ones, and why our priorities should be centered around sustainable economic growth constrained by negative rights.

Do check out: 
Stubborn Attachments by Tyler Cowen.
Marginal Revolution.
The Marginal Revolution University.
Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit.
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

Episode 105: Understanding Gandhi. Part 2: Mahatma

In the second of a two-part series, historian Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 105 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about Mohandas Gandhi's transformation into Mahatma Gandhi -- and how that changed the world. Among the subjects discussed: caste, misogyny and Gandhi's personal obsessions.

Also check out: Ramachandra Guha's books on Gandhi, Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World.

Episode 104: Understanding Gandhi. Part 1: Mohandas

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most fascinating characters in history: complex, misunderstood, deeply impactful. Ramachandra Guha, author of two acclaimed biographies of the man, joins Amit Varma in episode 104 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the first 45 years of Gandhi's life, before he returned to India to catalyse the Indian freedom struggle.

Do check out: Ramachandra Guha's books on Gandhi, Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World.

Episode 103: The Emergency

The Emergency of 1975 was not an aberration, but was written into the DNA of the Indian state. Historian Gyan Prakash joins Amit Varma in episode 103 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on why the framers of the constitution gave such draconian powers to the state -- and why we may not have become so free in 1947 after all.

Also check out:
Emergency Chronicles by Gyan Prakash, on Amazon. 
Shruti Rajagopalan on our constantly changing constitution (Aug 2015).
The Evil of Family Planning (Dec 2014) -- Amit Varma
Lessons From 1975 (Sep 2015) -- Amit Varma

Episode 102: The Paradox of Narendra Modi

Shashi Tharoor, author of The Paradoxical Prime Minister, joins Amit Varma in episode 102 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the many faces of Narendra Modi, as well as the nature of politics, the idea of India and his own journey as a politician.

Also read:
The Paradoxical Prime Minister on Amazon, as well as Shashi Tharoor's other books.
The Facts Do Not Matter -- Amit Varma
No Free Trade For Horses -- Ep 13 of The Seen and the Unseen, on the Anti-Defection Law.

Episode 101: The Progress of Humanity

We tend to take progress for granted, and are wired to focus on bad news instead of good. Steven Pinker joins Amit Varma in episode 101 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about why the world is getting better, and why Enlightenment values are essential for ensuring that the trend continues.

Also check out:
Enlightenment Now and The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker.
It is Daft to Worry About Inequality --Amit Varma.

Episode 100: The 100th Episode Ramble

The Seen and the Unseen reaches 100 episodes! Yea! Economist Shruti Rajagopalan, the most frequent guest on the show, joins host Amit Varma as they shoot the breeze about the 99 episodes before this, the horrors of 2018, and the further horrors of 2019.

Also check out:
These past episodes with Gunvant Patil, Vikram Doctor, Harsha Bhogle, Gideon Haigh+Prem Panicker, Rajesh Jain, Vishwanath S, Parth Shah, Amit Chandra, Alex Tabarrok, Naveen Noronha, Kumar Anand, Vivek Kaul, Ashok Malik, Nikita+Supriya (on #MeToo), Devika+Nidhi+Hamsini and Matt Ridley.

And also with Shruti on the Right to Property, DeMon, GST, #MeToo and Caste.

And ah, The Matunga Racket.

Episode 99: The Importance of Rules and Institutions

A democracy is not merely about voting. Those who are voted into power need to be kept in check, and Rules and Institutions are essential for this. Foreign policy analyst Ameya Naik joins Amit Varma in episode 99 of The Seen and the Unseen to elaborate -- and to explain the danger that Donald Trump poses.

Also check out:
Why Both Modi and Trump are Textbook Populists -- Amit Varma
Ek Baar Jo Maine Commitment Kar Di -- Amit Varma
Trade Deficits (and Trumpism) -- Episode 73 of The Seen and the Unseen
Immigration and Outsourcing -- Episode 69 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 98: The Deccan Before Shivaji

When people think of the Deccan, they think Shivaji vs Mughals. But the history of the Deccan is far richer than that -- and far racier. It's full of lust and laughter, murder and madness, sex and senselessness. Historian Manu S Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 98 of The Seen and the Unseen to tell that fascinating story.

Also check out:
Manu S Pillai's book Rebel Sultanson Amazon and on Juggernaut.
The Indianness of Indian Food -- ep 95 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 97: The Evolution of Cricket

In his three-decade career covering cricket, Harsha Bhogle has had an inside view on the transformation of the game. He joins Amit Varma in episode 97 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how cricket has changed – and why it gives him hope.

Also check out:
How Money Changed Cricket -- Ep 41 of The Seen and the Unseen
Opportunity, Choice and the IPL (2008) -- Amit Varma
The Tamasha All Purists Should Love -- Amit Varma
Purists, keep quiet. Cricket is changing, not dying -- Amit Varma
Test Cricket Is Dying, but Cricket Is Not -- Amit Varma